The 2nd in the Interior Merritt Centennials (29-14-4-3) take on the 2nd on the Island Powell River Kings (31-19-1-0) tonight.
The Cents are coming off one of their best complete efforts on the season on Wednesday night against the Coquitlam Express. The Cents got a solid special teams effort that started early with Matt Kopperud converting on the first powerplay of the game, and the team with the help of Austin Roden was able to shut the Express down on the penalty kill going perfect on 6 occasions. Brad Cocca came alive in the game in the 2nd period connecting on a beautiful passing play with Jackson Munro to make it 2-0 after 40 minutes. In the third, the Cents converted early on an expiring powerplay in the first 20 seconds to make it 3-0, then had to weather a storm of momentum from the Express. Thanks to some stellar saves from Austin Roden the Cents kept Coquitlam at bay, and then were able to add goals from Cocca and Wicks to make it 5-0 for Roden's 2nd shutout of the season.
The Cents are hoping the momentum carries over into the weekend as this stretch of 3 in 3 could define the season. They sit just 4 points back of Penticton, and have one final head to head match up next Friday. They'll get an extra push from having their Dads join them on the trip, and hopefully they perform well in front of their families in the not so familiar territory of the Island Division.
First up are the Powell River Kings who are the 2nd best team on paper in the division, but may have the best structure. The Kings are 3-2 in their last 5 and continue to have two of the top threats in the league including leading goal scorer Ryan Brushett with 35 goals this season. They also possess the leagues best powerplay so the Cents will have their hands full on defense.
The lone game these two teams played earlier this season saw the offenses combine for 7 goals on the powerplay. The Cents tallied 4/7 while the Kings went 3/5, but Powell River got more goals even strength to make it a 6-5 final.
The Cents got a big 3 point game from Brad Cocca who's now up to 58 points on the year - 6th in the BCHL. Nick Granowicz and Nick Wicks both have 52 points, and Mathieu Gosselin joins the 50 points club with 50.
The Kings rely on Ryan Brushett to fill the net. He has 72 points on the year - 2nd only to phenom Alex Newhook. Levi Glasman has 54 which is 13th league wide, and Neal Samanski has chipped in 41 points.
The special teams battle sees the Kings with the edge.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
PR - 24.6% (1st) PR - 80.8% (8th)
Cents - 18.9% (12th) Cents - 77.1% (13th)
In net, Austin Roden is coming off his best performance of the year posting his 2nd shutout of the year. He's now reached the illustrious 20 win plateau on the season as well at 20-7-3, a .907SV%, a 3.01 GAA and 2 shutouts. Vincent Duplessis didn't dress on Wednesday, and an AP could be on the bench tonight.
Mitch Adamyk has been the go to guy for the Kings at 23-13. He sports a .907 SV%, a 2.93 GAA and 4 shutouts. Matteo Paler-Chow is 4-4 with a .891 SV% and a 3.36 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin says the Kings will be a good barometer for the Island road swing.
"The Kings have the best structure out of all the Island teams, they have good special teams, they play well at home. If we can get past them it will set a good tone."
The Cents hope to set the tone early tonight.
Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.